Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) are generally safe and reliable, but strong magnetic fields can sometimes interfere with them. Follow your doctor's safety advice and take the following precautions to prevent the chances of interference or of the device malfunctioning:

  • Keep your cell phone and MP3 player away from the area where your device is implanted.
  • Walk through security and anti-theft systems such as those at airports, business offices, retail stores and courthouses at a normal pace, but don't linger near them. Try to avoid handheld metal detectors; ask for a pat-down inspection instead.
  • Let your doctors, dentists and other health care providers know about your ICD before agreeing to any medical procedures or tests.
  • Avoid undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, used to treat kidney stones; and transcutaneous muscle or nerve stimulation (TENS), used to treat pain. If an MRI is absolutely necessary, consult your doctor, since certain facilities have the ability to scan without complications.
  • Try to stay at least two feet away from external electrical equipment such as generators, high-voltage transformers or welding equipment to avoid interference. Make sure electrical equipment is grounded.
  • Turn off car and boat motors before working on them.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 11 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 11 Jul 2013